HOUGHTON - Two members of the Houghton County Board of Commissioners said farewell at their final meeting Tuesday night.
Chair Ed Jenich and Commissioner Dennis Barrette both decided not to run for another term in this year's elections. They will be replaced by Tom Tikkanen and Albert Koskela, respectively, in December.
Jenich thanked the Houghton County courthouse staff.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Ed Jenich attended his last Houghton County Board of Commissioners meetings Tuesday night in Houghton.
"They've been good years," he said. "I've made a lot of good friends, and I'm sure I've made some enemies, but it's been good. I remember when I came on the board 15-plus years ago, filling Clarence Dwyer's unexpired term, we had a little over $200,000 in our fund balance. I'm pleased to leave the board with over $2.2 million in the fund balance. It's been through the due diligence of the county board and watching the pennies. As I've told (Controller) Eric (Forsberg) over the years, 'You watch the pennies and I'll take care of the dollars.' But it's been good, and I thank you."
Barrette said he's learned a lot since he came on the board 10 years ago, including how extensive county business is. He complimented the county's department heads and Forsberg, who he said brings financial excellence and strong leadership.
"He and his staff will go to any length to help out rookie commissioners and experienced ones," he said. "Because of them, I really believe we have one of the best-run counties in the state."
Other bright spots include the county's airport, Brownfield Authority, transfer station and Land Bank Authority, Barrette said.
"I challenge the new commissioners in this room to work hard, listen well, and do things to build up Houghton County - not with controversy, but with cooperation," Barrette said.
Commissioner Anton Pintar commended the two for their service to the county. Forsberg said he wishes more people knew how much work commissioners put in.
"It's been a great pleasure to serve under both of you," he said. "You are true public servants who are here not for your benefit but to actually serve Houghton County."
Commissioner Scott Ala, now the senior commissioner, seconded Forsberg's comments. Of the two, he said, Jenich probably had it the worst: "He went through two jail elections."
"I can say that you do make unpopular decisions, but you do it on behalf of the people," he said. "We try to do the best for the people in the county. These two have put their best foot forward. At the end of the day, it has its rewards for the people. I think they've done a good job in the time they've been here, and we wish you well."
Commissioner Tim Palosaari also thanked the two.
"It is a public service, and I appreciate you doing it," he said.
Sheriff Brian McLean said both had been a help to the department.
"We're all here to serve the people, and we can't say enough about all the support you've given our office over all those years," he said. "We appreciate it. We're sad to see you go, but stick around, and come around to visit - but not through the back door."